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The gold, of course, is the original Die Hard, a flat-out five star classic pretty much without equal. Introducing Bruce Willis John McClane as an ordinary guy in an extraordinary situation, its littered with great lines, great characters, and genre-defining moments. Plus, in Alan Rickman, it has one of the finest cinematic villains of the past few decades.
Die Hard 2: Die Harder inevitably dilutes matters, this time switching the action to Washingtons Dulles International Airport. But with Willis and a good number of characters returning from the original, its a fun--if at times brutal--ride, that scores highly in the entertainment stakes.
Die Hard: With A Vengeance, the third film in the series, pretty much strips away the bulk of the supporting cast, and replaces them with the not-significant figure of Samuel L Jackson. It changes the dynamic of the film into a buddy-buddy movie, albeit a good one. And again, its a ride thats hard not to enjoy, with Jeremy Irons giving good measure as McClanes chief foe.
Finally, Die Hard 4.0 is a real surprise. Given the fact that it arrived over a decade after the third film, it finds Willis and relative newcomer Justin Long shouldering an entertaining, old fashioned action film, that papers over its occasional cracks by asking its lead actor to ramp things up a gear when necessary. And watching John McClane do what he does--even when any hint of reality is thrown out of the window near the end--is endlessly entertaining.
So while none of the sequels have matched the peerless original, the Die Hard Quadrilogy nonetheless delivers one classic, and three very enjoyable action movies. And you cant argue with that kind of hit rate. Always, always bet on McClane... --Simon Brew